The Second World War

  • Kim Coleman

Abstract

At the beginning of the Second World War, the experience of the First World War gave most of the combatants the expectation that chemical warfare would be used to an even greater extent, despite the Geneva Protocol having been put into place in the inter-war period. Chemical warfare had resurfaced in 1937 in Abysinnia (Ethiopia) and in China, and it was clear that another great conflict was nearing and chemical weapons were expected to be used, both on the battlefield and against civilian populations. Certainly air raids and gas attacks were expected as soon as war broke out and the British government issued the entire civil population, including babies, with gas masks — some 30 million in total. Perhaps in response to the D-Day landings in June 1944, it was not until late autumn 1944 that Hitler intervened in the matter of gas masks and appointed a special commissioner directly responsible to him. With great haste a programme was set up to protect the entire German population from the effects of gas warfare. Although gas mask production rose to more than 2,300,000 per month, it was evident it would take a while before the entire urban population would be properly equipped.1 However, in Germany, since 1931 the Ministry of the Interior had been issuing guidelines for civil defence, and in 1932 the first release of the Vorläufige Ortsanweisung für den Luftschutz der Zivilbevölkerung was issued, which by the end of the war comprised 12 chapters with numerous comprehensive attachments.

Keywords

Toxicity Depression Europe Chlorine Explosive 

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Notes

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© Kim Coleman 2005

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  • Kim Coleman

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